Former Maine health official Mary Mayhew tapped to lead federal Medicaid program

Maine Gov. Paul LePage's former health official has been tapped to oversee Medicaid at the federal level. (Getty/designer491)

A former Maine health official and an ardent opponent of Medicaid expansion has been appointed to oversee Medicaid at the federal level.

Mary Mayhew, who served as the former Maine health commissioner under Gov. Paul LePage for seven years, was named deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services on Monday. In that position, she will be the federal point person for the Medicaid program, replacing Tim Hill, who served as the acting director.

“I look forward to having Mary join the CMS leadership team and would like to thank Tim Hill for his leadership as acting center director,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said in an email to staff on Monday.

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The appointment sends a clear message from the Trump administration, which is pushing to implement work Medicaid requirements. Under LePage, Mayhew sought to reform Maine’s Medicaid program including work requirements and charge premiums and fees to some able-bodied recipient. She has also warned officials in Utah and Florida not to expand their state programs.

RELATED: Maine's internal war over Medicaid expansion is nearly over, but is its governor ready to throw in the towel?

Mayhew stepped down from her post in 2017 to run for governor to replace LePage. She lost the primary earlier this year, receiving just 14% of the vote.

Her critics have lobbed blunt assessments of her time leading Maine’s Medicaid program. Mike Tipping, communications director for the Maine People’s Alliance, previously told the Portland Press Herald that “her mismanagement of the department is only matched by her cruelty.”

LePage has gained national attention refusing to implement ballot-approved Medicaid expansion, which received 60% support from Maine voters. Despite a court order requiring him to follow through with expansion efforts, LePage has repeatedly resisted. Last month, he submitted a waiver for expansion but urged CMS not to approve it.